Lawrence, Kansas: Overrated, Overpriced, and Underwhelming, A Bakery That Sells Burnt Bread?


1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe
1900 Barker Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 424-7609
Website: 1900barker.com
Prices: $$$$

Only bread, pastries, maybe some quiche, and coffees/teas available here, no real food, so think “European” style cafe, not the American variety where you can find a sandwich, soup, or more on the menu.
I thought the other popular bakeries in town were expensive – if you live in Lawrence, you know which two I am thinking about – until I stopped by 1900 Barker this morning.
I had heard they were a bit pricey, but that is an understatement! I paid $9 ($8.50+tax) for a loaf of (burnt) apple and raisin wheat bread, the most I have spent in my life in any of the 41 countries I have visited, including Switzerland, for a loaf of bread. Seems rather excessive to me.

It also seems as if everyone is giving 1900 Barker 5/5 Stars, jumping on the bandwagon for a new business off the beaten path. I think 5 Stars (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, TABELog) are given out willy-nilly by far too many reviewers, but my ratings are based on “value”, hence the name of this blog: “TravelValue”, what you get in terms of quality, service and price. So based on their absurd prices alone, I cannot give them more than 4 Bombs (2 Stars), especially when I take into account that the bread was burnt, even more so on the bottom than the top.

I hope they succeed, I really do. I hate for any business to fail (with a couple of exceptions in Lawrence, but that’s another review or two), particularly when they have large sums invested in a venture (the place used to be a run down laundromat). However, after the novelty wears off, people will require more value for their dollar. So, unless they bring their prices back down to Earth and stop burning the bread, I unfortunately do not see this venture being a long-term success.


CombatCritic Gives 1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe 4 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Four Bombs Equates To:

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Title: Overrated, Overpriced, and Underwhelming: This Bakery Sells Burnt Bread

Key Words: 1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe, 1900, Barker, bakery, cafe, bread, coffee, pastries, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again!”
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The Pita Pit Is THE PITS When It Comes To Value


Pita Pit
1011 Massachusetts St
Lawrence, KS 66044


Prices: $$$$$

The place was empty on a Wednesday night as I entered, a bad sign, and I almost turned around to go to Fuzzy’s for some tacos. Instead I decided to give it a go and walked to the counter.

The staff was friendly and helpful, the place clean, the veggies fresh, and being Wednesday I was told that “double meat’s only an extra buck” ($1 – normally $2.50), so I ordered a Philly Steak with grilled onion, peppers, and mushrooms for $6.59 ($7.59 + tax with double meat, bringing the total to $8 and change – normally $9.09 + tax).


With more meat than Subway, I thought the sandwich would be more filling than it was. They offer white and whole wheat pita, but being so thin the bread offers little satiation. I was still hungry. The extras (veggies, cheeses, sauces) are included and are liberally added, but the pita bread can only hold so much before bursting. In fact, the pita fell apart halfway through my sandwich as the juices attacked the bread less than 20  minutes after ordering.


For $8+ I was not pleased with the value of the sandwich. They offer chips on the side to accompany sandwiches, but french fries would be more appropriate and filling. Overall, I found my experience and the value of my meal disappointing.

CombatCritic Gives Pita Pit 4 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!





Pita Pit on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Pita Pit, pita, pit, sandwich, shop, restaurant, eat, food, delivery, menu, bread, gyro, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Great Harvest Bread Company: Great Bread, High Prices Equal Moderate Value


Lawrence, Kansas: I had seen Great Harvest while driving up Vermont, but being a regular at Wheatfield’s (less than two blocks away), I had not bothered to stop in. My wife and I had to park across the street from Great Harvest during a recent visit to Massachusetts Street for some shopping, so we decided to go in.

As we entered, the aroma of freshly baked bread and pies consumed me as the baker and ovens are directly behind the counter and he was removing piping-hot pie from the oven. Flavors vary by season.

Unlike Wheatfield’s, bread is self-service in plastic wrap on shelving next to the counter. There were samples of five different breads and a bowl full of butter next to the register and when I inquired about the offerings, the young lady sliced a piece of multigrain bread as wide and thick as the palm of my hand. The bread was moist and crunchy with chunks of wholegrain throughout, the crust being a bit too soft for my taste, but delicious nonetheless. At nearly $6 a loaf, the bread is more than I have ever paid for a loaf and $1-$2 more than their competitor down the street.

The pies were gorgeous, a plump golden brown, but at $16 a pop, a bit pricey for my taste. Their products are obviously high in quality and flavor, so the only thing limiting my rating to four stars and not five was the prices. The service was excellent, the bread delicious, the prices a bit high … 

CombatCritic Gives Great Harvest Bread Company 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Key Words: Great Harvest Bread Company, great, harvest, bread, company, Lawrence, Kansas, Vermont, 66044, pie, multigrain, bakery, baker, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue

Wheatfields: A Field of Dreams for Bread Lovers


WheatFields Bakery Café
904 Vermont Street
Lawrence, KS  66044

Phone: 785.841.5553
Web: www.WheatfieldsBakery.com
Hours:
Monday through Friday – 6:30am to 8:00pm
Saturday 6:30am to 6:30pm
Sunday – 7:30am to 4:00pm

I have been meaning to review Wheatfields, a bakery and restaurant one block West of Mass Street in downtown Lawrence, for quite some time, but this morning was the first time we actually had a meal there. I love a good, hearty breakfast, but because bacon, eggs, hash browns, biscuits and gravy are not as healthy as they are tasty, we normally only indulge on special occasions. With today being my birthday, we went for broke!

Wheatfields makes the most wonderful breads and my wife has been buying them since she started working at KU nearly three years ago. Our favorite is the raisin and pecan sourdough ($, a robust torpedo-shaped loaf with a thick crust outside and plenty of raisins and pecan pieces inside. It toasts marvelously and is delicious alone, with butter, or coated in my favorite delicacy in the world … peanut butter … YUUUUUM!

They have many other varieties, including sourdough, semolina with sesame and poppy seeds, and many others:
Baguette: The French standard. A crisp crust and an open, irregular crumb with lots of yeast fermentation flavor make ours a true classic. Great for sandwiches, crostini, or on its own. 

Ciabatta: As Italian as the baguette is French. Somewhat flat, somewhat rectangular, ciabatta has a wildly open crumb and a complex fermentation flavor. We add a touch of extra virgin olive oil. 

Country French: Our flagship Pain au Levain is naturally leavened and made with organic unbleached flour with stone ground wheat and rye. 

Kalamata Olive: WheatFields Sourdough, loaded with ripe Kalamata olives. Maggie Glezer (Artisan Baking Across America) calls ours “by far the best.” Available as either a regular boule or a “mini”: too big to be called a roll, too small for a loaf. 

Pain de Campagne is, literally, Country Bread, and is the traditional bread of the villagers and farmers of the French countryside. Historically, pain de Campagne had as much as 10% rye flour, was risen with levain and baked in a wood-fired oven. Ours is all of that, plus, we add some spelt (l’epautre) flour and season with sun-and-wind-dried Breton sea salt. 100% organic flour. 

Rustic Italian Round: Choose from our plain or rosemary loaves every day. Rustics are made of very wet dough that gets lots of fermentation time. The results are round crusty loaves rich in flavor with an irregular open crumb. Risen with bakers’ yeast and an overnight starter. 

Walnut Raisin: Thompson raisins and California walnuts in our naturally leavened Pain de Campagne dough. Toast it at breakfast, of course, but also try a soft goat cheese spread atop. 100% organic flour. 

Walnut Sage: Country French with walnuts and fresh sage. We serve our immensely popular “No. 9” sandwich on this bread. The sage and walnuts complement the turkey-cranberry pairing –our “everyday is Thanksgiving” bread. 

100% Whole Wheat: The heartiest in our Pain au Levain series, this loaf is about as fundamental as bread can be: 100% organic wheat ground between natural granite millstones and baked on the hearth of a wood-fired oven. Made with a natural wheat levain 100% organic flour.

Classic Breakfast ($5.99)

Breads range in price from $4 to nearly $9 for their holiday specials, including chocolate cherry ($8) and anise and grape ($4) which are only made during the month of December.

When dining at Wheatfields, you order at the counter immediately in front of you as you enter through the lefthand door (the bakery counter sits in front of the right), pay, and are given a small sign to place on your table so the servers can bring your order to the correct table. Drinks are help-yourself with three varieties of coffee (two regular and one decaf) and a small selection of fountain drinks.

Always keeping it simple on a first visit, I decided on the Classic Breakfast (#1 – Two eggs, freshly grated hash browns and toast – $3.95, with sausage links or bacon – $5.95) and a full order of the biscuits and gravy (#5 – Buttermilk biscuits, spicy sausage gravy – Full order $5.75, half order $3.75) to share with my wife. Not a big meat eater, she had the French toast (#3 – Three slices dipped in egg, Irish Cream, and cinnamon, grilled, served with pure maple syrup – $6.95). Some other breakfast choices include:
Biscuits and Gravy (Full Order – $5.75)

#2 – Frittata Sandwich ~ Potato, mushroom, green olive and spinach egg pie served on Country French with scallion cream cheese. $5.95 

#4 – Primavera Omelet ~ Roasted zucchini, caramelized onions, spinach, mushrooms, and herb chevre with freshly grated hash browns and toast. $7.25 

#6 – Locarno Omelet ~ Bacon, ham, roasted garlic, and Swiss with freshly grated hash browns and toast. $7.25 

#7 – Ciabattina Sandwich ~ Two scrambled eggs on grilled Ciabattina – $4.25, with Swiss cheese – $4.75, with bacon – $4.95 with Swiss & bacon – $5.45 

#8 – Breakfast Taco ~ Flour Tortilla, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, herb cream cheese and feta. Served with chipotle salsa. $6.25

Our meals arrived rather quickly, even before I was done pouring our coffee and toasting the sourdough bread which accompanied my breakfast. My Classic Breakfast was good with the eggs cooked perfectly over-medium, the bacon crispy but not burnt, and the hash browns also crunchy, just the way I like them. The order of biscuits and gravy was HUGE with two very large biscuits smothered in a thick country gravy with loads of sausage. I was surprised that my breakfast and the biscuits were luke-warm considering the fact that they arrived so quickly, leading me to believe that they are not cooked to order, but are prepared in advance, kept semi-warm, and served buffet-style from the kitchen. The taste was good, but my meal would have been better had it been served piping-hot.

The coffee was hot, obviously fresh, and delicious! My wife’s French toast consisted of three large slices of sourdough dipped in egg and fried with an overgenerous amount of cinnamon. At $6.95 for three slices of bread, a little egg, a dash of cinnamon, and a little (maybe Maple) syrup, this dish is overpriced by at least $1. Again, this dish could have also been warmer and it would have been nice if the accompanying cup of syrup had also been warm, but it seemed to be straight out of the jar (bottle or can). The cinnamon was overbearing, but otherwise the dish was good, not great.

French Toast ($6.95)

As breakfast goes, I have had better, much better, but we enjoyed our meal and may return for lunch or dinner to see how they do. Lawrence does not have an abundance of good restaurants, but being a fairly small town of around 90,000, I guess that is to be expected. Wheatfields is a very popular meeting place with great (not cheap) bread, excellent coffees, and “very average” breakfast fare. They seem to be doing well because the place was nearly full at 10:30AM on a Sunday, but I believe they would be bursting at the seams, as most GREAT breakfast restaurants do, if the food was cooked to order and hot. I would also suggest having the servers, who are already there to serve the food, take orders rather than creating a choke-point by having customers order at the counter and fiddle about with coffee, cream, sugar, drinks, silverware and napkins. The servers would likely also appreciate it, instead being tipped 15-20% instead of the loose change they receive in the jar by the register. A few smiles and an occasional “thank you” from staff would also be much appreciated.


WheatFields Bakery on Urbanspoon

CombatCritic Gives Wheatfields Bakery Cafe 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Key Words: Wheatfields, wheat, field, bread, bakery, eggs, bacon, biscuit, gravy, food, eat, breakfast, lunch, dinner, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value,

Rub Your Lamp and Wish for MORE FOOD at Aladdin Cafe (Mass Street – Downtown Lawrence)


Rub Your Lamp and Wish for MORE FOOD at Aladdin Cafe (Mass Street – Downtown Lawrence)

Aladdin Café
1021 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Phone: 785-832-1100

My wife had heard good things about Aladdin Café in downtown Lawrence (Mass Street), so we figured we would give it a try while a friend was visiting from Colorado.  She had never had middle-Eastern food before and was enticed by the unfamiliar smells emanating from the kitchen.  As we entered there were two parties seated out of probably 20 tables throughout the restaurant which is sparsely decorated with a small store containing a few middle-Eastern products in the rear next to the kitchen.  We stood there for close to five minutes while the only server in the place yukked it up with a table of three men whom apparently could not make up their minds and could obviously care less that we were standing there like bumps on a log.  She finally ended her conversation and came over tho seat us.

With no bar or alcohol on the menu, you are able to bring your own wine or beer (no corkage fee), so I had done my research on Yelp and brought a nice bottle of wine, a $10 Syrah that would easily cost $30 in most restaurants.  This is a nice option and it was the first time I had the opportunity to partake of such a custom, definitely keeping the bill from getting out of hand.  The server brought two glasses along with our water and a corkscrew.  It would have been nice if she had offered to open and pour the wine for us, and she would have been tipped accordingly, but that was not the case.  I opened the wine, poured, and waited for our server to take our order.


Being our first visit, we decided to try the Agrabah Appetizer Combo, a combination of hummus (blend of chickpeas, tahini, lemon, and garlic garnished with sumac, parsley, and hot sauce), baba ghanouj (roasted eggplant blended with

Appetizer Combo – $8.99

tahini sauce, lemon juice, and garlic), genie dip (roasted red pepper mixed with chickpeas, garlic, and tahini), falafel (deep fried patties of fava bean, chickpea, cilantro,

garlic, and onion blend), dolmati (VERY small rolled grape-leaves stuffed with rice, tomatoes, and herbs, simmered in tomato and lemon juice), feta cheese, and Kalamata olives ($7.99) served with a small plate of pita bread.  After 20 minutes and no appetizer, I thought our server, who disappeared much of the time we were there, had forgotten, so we tracked her down to ensure our combo platter arrived well before our meals.  The hummus, genie dip, and baba ghanouj were plopped on the oval plate alongside two small falafels and two small dolmati.  Considering the price and that were were three, I would expect a bit more, considering the fact that the dolmati and falafels were so small you could pop one in your mouth and still have room for an entire White Castle burger.  

Falafel Sandwich with French Fries – $8.99
My wife had the Falafel and Baba Ghanouj Sandwich (Vegan – roasted eggplant spread and falafel served with tahini sauce on pita bread – $7.99) which came with rice.  My wife wanted French fries instead of rice, so the server told us it would be a $1.00 up-charge, not unreasonable, but when the plate arrived there were hardly any fries, maybe six or seven medium size pieces and not nearly enough to satisfy her hunger or justify an extra dollar.  The sandwich had much more lettuce than fillings, a couple small falafels in a medium size pita and at $8.99 including fries, no bargain.  My wife is not a big eater and was still hungry after finishing her food, not a good sign.

Beef and Lamb Gyro w/ Fries – $8.99
I decided to try Aladdin’s Gyro, a combination of grilled lamb and beef ($7.99 – chicken also available) with lettuce and tomato and topped with tzatziki, a creamy Greek cucumber sauce.  I also ordered the fries and after tasting our friend’s rice and was happy to pay an extra dollar for a few measly French fries.  Her rice was bland and white with a dollup of canned mystery tomato sauce on top, a tasteless side and nothing like the wonderful saffron rice I had eaten in the middle-East in the early 2000’s.  The few small slices of gyro meat inside were overwhelmed by the massive amounts of cheap lettuce and a few pieces of tomato.  I have had gyros with three times the meat in Greece and the U.S. that were less than half the price, so do not expect good value when visiting Aladdin Café.

I am not a huge fan of middle-Eastern cuisine, but the offerings at Aladdin were enough to allow some variety.  The service was inadequate, the food mediocre and NOT plentiful, and the ambience non existent.  It is unfortunate because we live just a few blocks away from Aladdin and it would be nice to have a few exotic options in the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, the only thing exotic about Aladdin Café on Mass Street are the prices and that is not a good thing.

CombatCritic gives Aladdin Café 4 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!





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Key Words: Aladdin, Cafe, middle, eastern, falafel, gyro, food, eat, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, downtown, service, hummus, baba, ghanouj, pita, bread, tzatziki, CombatCritic

The Mad Greek … Good Greek Cuisine, Moderate Prices


The Mad Greek … Good Greek Cuisine, Moderate Prices


Mad Greek Restaurant
907 Massachusetts
Lawrence, KS 66044



Phone: 785-843-2441

If you like arsenic, you will love the Mad Greek in downtown Lawrence! Seriously, this restaurant is actually pretty good and reasonably priced. The reason I made that comment is because they seem to serve rice and green beans with EVERY dish and rice has been linked to high arsenic content with recommendations, according to OneGreenPlanet.org and others, to limit rice consumption to once a week among other precautions.

Greek “Side” Salad

On our first visit to The Mad Greek, my wife ordered the spinach pie ($7.99), spinach and feta cheese with herbs baked in a light phyllo dough with tzatziki (a creamy cucumber sauce used extensively in Grecian cooking) and fresh pita bread. The spinach pies were light and flaky with a perfect ratio of filling to crust. For the price, I would think a salad would be included, but you must pay $1.99 to add a Greek salad ($1.59 for “house” salad) to any entrée. My wife and I both ordered a Greek salad with our meals and at $1.99 extra, not a bad deal considering the quality. Fresh romaine lettuce, tomato, Greek Calamata olives, and crumbled feta cheese in a Greek olive oil and vinegar dressing. I would prefer chunks of feta over the fine crumbles, but the taste is the same either way…very good.


Moussaka with Pita Bread and Fries
I ordered the gyros platter, a reasonable ($9.99 – not abundant) amount of sliced gyro meat (a combination of seasoned beef and lamb), pita bread, tzatziki, green beans, and rice (of course). The gyro meat was fresh and tasty, and the tzatziki delicious, but the pita bread was a little too soft for my taste. The green beans were simmered in a tomato sauce and were “OK” and the rice was similarly boring, but I am not a huge rice lover. I ordered a side of french fries ($2.99), which were hot and crunchy just the way I like them, but I will probably ask to substitute fries for the rice and green beans on our next visit.

On our second visit it was my wife’s birthday, so I ordered the “flaming” saganaki, a slab of fresh Greek goat cheese soaked in batter, deep fried, and served in a flaming extravaganza table side. The “oohs” and “aahs” of fellow customers followed the lighting of the cheese, but at $7.99 the dish was overpriced by AT LEAST $2.00 in my opinion, coming with one slice of pita bread (cut into six pieces). The birthday girl ordered the moussaka, one of her staples (along with Greek salad) during our month-long visit to Greece in 2005. The moussaka – eggplant, ground beef and other ingredients covered with a béchamel sauce and baked – looked as though it had been sitting for a while and the serving was small, a cube no more than two and a half inches in diameter and at $9.99, about one quarter of the size of servings we received in Greece. The moussaka came with pita bread, rice and green beans, so my wife substituted french fries at no additional charge. She did not like it and I thought it was very “average”, being overpriced for the serving size.

Cannelloni Florentine

I decided to try one of the Italian offerings, so I ordered the cannelloni Florentine, pasta tubes stuffed with veal, spinach and seasonings then baked after being covered with alfredo (white) and red sauce. The cannelloni was actually pretty good, but the sauces were both rather boring, most likely coming from a can or jar, not homemade. Again, we had to pay $1.99 each to add a Greek salad and mine came with two small pieces of garlic bread ($9.99 for pasta and bread, $11.98 including the salad, not bad, but NOT A GREAT VALUE).


Wine is reasonable at $3.50 per glass for the house wine, a tasty, inexpensive burgundy that went well with both meals. They have a full bar and prices seem fairly reasonable with a decent selection of drafts at $3.99 to $4.59 (stout). Water is served wit a lemon slice, but I had to ask for refills, something that should not have happened considering the small number of customers that night.

The Mad Greek has original Greek recipes and decent food, but the value for the price is questionable. Ordering “ala carte” should be reserved for restaurants with cloth napkins and severs who take your payment rather than making customers stand in line to pay our bills (as is the case at The Mad Greek). I would recommend including a Greek salad with entrees and maybe increasing the price by fifty cents to a dollar to offset the cost and having servers handle payments as is done in even the cheapest sit-down restaurants these days. People should feel as if they are receiving a “good value” for their money and NOT feel like we are eating at McDonalds after having spent $25 each for dinner.

CombatCritic gives The Mad Greek 6 Bombs Out of 10 … Bombs Are Good!
 
Mad Greek Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Key Words: mad, Greek, Greece, restaurant, gyros, moussaka, mousaka, phyllo, pita, bread, souvlaki, tzatziki, hummus, food, eat, wine, beer, CombatCritic, Lawrence, Kansas

Paravicini’s – An Old Colorado City Favorite … Great Food, Reasonable Prices


 Paravicini’s Italian Bistro

Authentic Foods – Great Service – Quality Atmosphere
2802 W Colorado Ave, 
Colorado Springs, CO 80904-2444
(719) 471-8200 

Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30am – 9:00pm
Fri-Sat 11:30am – 10:00pm


Paravicinis.com

I have been eating at Paravicini’s since they opened in 2003 and have not been disappointed once. Ted Sexton and Franco  Pisani, the owners, opened their doors, just minutes from our Old Colorado City home, to rave reviews and Franco, the head chef, deserves every one of them. The food is and always has been consistent, reasonably priced, and made with quality ingredients and the wine list robust and reasonable as well.

Appetizers include many of the Italian specialties you would expect, including calamari, fried mozzarella, mussels, bruschetta (pronounced bru-ske-ta, not bru-she-ta as many Americans mistakenly do), and assorted meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables among others. I stopped ordering appetizers a long time ago because you can expect an abundance of food from ordering the main course including pasta (full meals or as sides), meats (veal, chicken and steak prepared in an abundance of sauces), salad (served family style – Ceasar is $2 extra per person) and fresh baked bread (keep bringing it!).


Pastas include many regulars including spaghetti and meatballs (a dish you will never see in Italy), manicotti, lasagna, ravioli, rigatoni, and gnocchi (small potato dumplings) in portions even the biggest eaters will not be disappointed by, but the meat dishes are not to be missed!

The veal dishes are the best value on the menu, just a buck or two more than the pastas and chicken dishes, served in a variety of sauces second to none. My favorites, not on the menu but available nonetheless, are the Veal (vitello in Italian) Saltimbocca (veal scallopini – medallions – covered with prosciutto and mozzarella, then baked and served in a lemon butter and sage sauce over angelhair pasta) and the Veal Capricosa (veal medallions covered with mozzarella then baked and served with sauteed prosciutto, mushrooms, and onion over angelhair). Other favorites are the Veal Toscano (veal scaloppini sautéed with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts, finished in a roasted garlic cream sauce), Veal Porcini (sautéed veal scaloppini in a porcini mushroom brandy cream sauce), and for those who enjoy hot and spicy, the Veal Giuseppe (veal scaloppini sautéed with spicy Italian sausage, onions, hot and sweet peppers, capers, olive, garlic & olive oil). All veal dishes are between $16.95 and $18.95 and served with salad, fresh, hot bread, and pasta, very reasonable for the quality of the milk-fed veal and portion sizes.  


The wine selection is moderate and varied, with glasses or bottles available at a fair price. A full bar is available for those who wish to partake.

Desserts, which I have been able to order only on a few occasions because of the robustness of the meals, are excellent and include classic tiramisu and delicious cannoli (tubular stuffed with a sweet ricotta cream), a specialty of the island of Sicily, my wife’s original home.

Paravicini’s, a name that is actually a bit redundant due to the fact that words ending in “i” are always plural in the Italian language, is a Colorado Springs treasure. Located in historic Old Colorado City, offers a wonderful American-style (Italians would never think of eating meat and pasta together) Italian meal with the opportunity to stroll through the historic district after dinner to digest before going on your way…buon appetito!







CombatCritic gives Paravicini’s a whopping nine out of ten bombs for quality, value, and consistency … BOMBS ARE GREAT!

Cascone’s Italian Restaurant – Good, Consistent American-Style Italian Food, Large Portions at MODERATE Prices (April 2013 Update)


Cascone’s (North Oak)

3733 North Oak Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64116
(816) 454-7977


www.Cascones.com


$$$ (PREVIOUSLY $$)

Ponte Vecchio – Florence, Italy
I am an Italian-American, was raised by first generation immigrants from the hills between Napoli (Naples) and Bari on the Adriatic Sea, lived in Italy for three years on assignment with the U.S. Air Force, and married an Italian (Sicilian to be precise), so we travel there often to see family and enjoy the wonderful cuisine.

Traditional Italian food (in the old country) only resembles what we call “Italian” here and you have not lived until you have eaten a traditional Italian meal…in Italy. Dinner in Italy normally does not start until 9PM and rarely ends before midnight. Starting with the antipasto, you may have assorted fresh meats and cheeses, prosciutto e melone (cured Italian ham from Parma and melone which is Italian cantaloupe – a traditional antipasto during the warm summer months), or, my favorite, insalata caprese (fresh buffalo mozzarella with bright red tomato slices drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with fresh basil leaves). Fresh homemade bread always accompanies your meal, but you may be charged a “coperto” (cover) of one or two euros for the bread and place setting. Primo (or the first dish) is next and usually consists of soup or pasta, an infinite variety of freshly made pastas mixed with an equally infinite number of sauce combinations. All the while, you sip bottled water (with or without gas…bubbles) and some of the most delicious wines in the world, usually locally made, if not on the premises. Next comes the secondo (or main dish), usually meat or fish, simply prepared and accompanied by contorni (vegetables, potatoes, and salad…yes, salad comes with the main dish, not before your meal). Italians would never think of eating pasta and meat (or fish) on the same plate, so the traditions you see in the U.S. (e.g. Olive Garden…excuse me while a vomit a little in my mouth) DEFINITELY did not originate in Italy. Finally, a digestivo, a liquor such as grappa, amaretto, or, my favorite, limoncello, is served before cafe (what you call espresso (cappuccino is never drunk after morning and is considered a woman’s drink) and dolce (dessert), usually something simple like fruit and cheese or biscotti (cookies).


My wife and I have been going to Cascone’s for three years and have never had a bad meal. Some were not as good as others were, but never bad. My Sicilian spouse has grown accustomed to the American version and, even though nontraditional (in her eyes anyway), Cascone’s is one of her favorites. Strong praise indeed from an Italian citizen.



We inevitably arrive on Sunday evening and the soup selection (all entrees come with soup or salad and a loaf of fresh baked bread) is very limited, rather predictable, and mostly boring..chicken of one sort or another with noodles or rice.


The salad with the house dressing (an olive oil and vinaigrette) is always good, but inconsistent. Sometimes you get olives, artichoke heart, and croutons, sometimes not. I order the blue cheese crumbles on the side and get a twist of fresh cracked pepper. Very good salad and the great bread makes up for the lack of consistency in ingredients (croutons for example). … UPDATE … THE NEW MENU ) AS OF APRIL 2013) IS NOW ALA CARTE (AGAIN … WE HAVE BEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE) AND SOUP OR SALAD ARE NOW EXTRA WITH A HOUSE SALAD GOING FOR AN ADDITIONAL $3.50 WITH AN ENTREE.  INSTEAD OF GETTING THE WARM LOAF OF SESAME SEED TOPPED OF WARM, CRUSTY BREAD IS NOW A COUPLE OF PIECES IN A BASKET … BOOOOOO!

The antipasto selection is limited and non-traditional, including the “Italian Nachos” a huge concoction that looks filling, but not appetizing. With the size of the entrees and the soup/salad, you will not need an antipasto anyway. If you do, get the steamed artichoke (when it is in-season) and share it with your guest.
I love veal and their veal parmigiana is superb. Pounded thin, lightly breaded, and pan fried, you get two large escallops on a bed of spaghetti (I order the mastacioli instead, a type of large penne). I do not like that the meat covers the pasta and inevitably have to dig the pasta out to scrape enough sauce together to cover the mastacioli, sometimes having to ask for extra marinara to cover the white bits. The servers are skimpy on the hand grated parmigianno-reggiano cheese, so I usually have them fill up my bread plate and scatter the cheese as I see fit.  


… UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE … 


EVEN THOUGH THE MENU HAS CHANGED TO ALA CARTE AGAIN, AND PRICES HAVE GONE UP, PORTIONS ARE SMALLER.  MY MASTACIOLI LAST NIGHT WAS NOT DRAINED WELL AND THE SAUCE WAS WATERY.  CASCONE’S MARINARA SAUCE IS VERY GOOD, BUT WATER, UNFORTUNATELY, DOES NOT ADD TO THE FLAVOR … ANOTHER BOOOOOOO!


I have had the veal marsala and it is not like any marsala dish I have ever tried. They use green (bell) peppers and onions in addition to the more traditional mushrooms, a combination that does not quite work with a delicate marsala sauce. I would not bother with this dish if I were you.


The chicken spedieni is very good and bountiful, but everything comes with pasta and marinara sauce, so if you want alfredo or olive oil and garlic, which would be more appropriate, be prepared to pay extra.

The pasta dishes are good and my wife usually orders the tortelonni Savina Maria, large shells stuffed with veal and cheese in a white sauce with mushrooms, peas, and pieces of prosciutto (cannot tell if it is cotto or crudo). It is very good and enough for one very hungry person of two light eaters (be prepared to be charged if you share, they charge for everything not priced on the menu). She also likes the Pasta Asiago, bowtie pasta in a crème sauce with broccoli and mushrooms (and chicken if you want to pay extra). The Pasta Asiago comes with tomatoes, but my wife is intolerant to tomatoes (can you believe it, an Italian woman that does not eat tomatoes, drink wine, or cook!).  There are a couple pizza choices (two to three depending  on the menu) and are decent, being the single serving (one person) size and much smaller than their Naepolitano (from Naples, Italy) cousins…VERY DISTANT COUSINS!
I have never had room for dessert, but the choices are traditional and look good so go for it if you have room.
The wine list (and menu) change as often my brother’s underwear, so do not become too attached to any particular maker or vintage. The house wines are pretty good and come in various varieties and at $6 per glass, are a relative bargain … 


… UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE … 


We returned for dinner on April 26th, 2013 and the menu had changed once again! THE WINE LIST IS VERY DIFFERENT … WINE BY THE GLASS ARE NOW $8 TO $11 AND UP!  BOTTLES MAY HAVE RISEN, BUT ARE NOW A MUCH BETTER VALUE.  MANY “UPSCALE” RESTAURANTS CAN GET AWAY WITH $8 TO $11 GLASSES OF WINE, BUT CASCONE’S IS NOT THAT KIND OF RESTAURANT AND THESE PRICES ARE GOING TO HURT WINE SALES BECAUSE CASCONE’S HAS A LARGE SENIOR CITIZEN CUSTOMER BASE AND IN TODAY’S ECONOMY, FOLKS ARE NOT GOING TO PAY THE EQUIVALENT OF $60 FOR A $25 TO $30 BOTTLE OF WINE. 



As I said, we have been going to Cascone’s practically every Sunday for five years, so you would think the wait staff would know us by name by now. They do not. The receptionist is quite friendly and knows us by face, but do not expect to be called by name by any of the staff, no matter how long you have been going there. Service is friendly enough and things get done on time (mostly), but they do not chit chat and seem to care less who you are. After all, I am there for food and companionship with my table mates, not to make friends with the wait staff. 


… UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE …

OUR SERVER LAST NIGHT WAS WONDERFUL AND VERY FRIENDLY AND ACCOMMODATING, EVEN THOUGH SHE NEVER TOLD US HER NAME … THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND EXCELLENT SERVICE … WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS!

CombatCritic NOW gives Cascone’s (North Oak) ONLY 6 out of 1o BOMBS … BOMBS in this case are good!


CombatCritic’s BOMB ratings are based on “VALUE” … quality of the food, service, ambience compared to the prices, so the drastic price changes in the case of Cascone’s dropped their score one BOMB … SORRY FREINDS!

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On the Front Lines in the Battle Against Overpriced Food

An "Old Colorado City" Favorite – Consistency, Quality … Paravicini’s


 Paravicini’s Italian Bistro

Authentic Foods – Great Service – Quality Atmosphere
2802 W Colorado Ave, 
Colorado Springs, CO 80904-2444
(719) 471-8200 

Hours: Sun-Thu 11:30am – 9:00pm
Fri-Sat 11:30am – 10:00pm


Paravicinis.com

I have been eating at Paravicini’s since they opened in 2003 and have not been disappointed once. Ted Sexton and Franco  Pisani, the owners, opened their doors, just minutes from our Old Colorado City home, to rave reviews and Franco, the head chef, deserves every one of them. The food is and always has been consistent, reasonably priced, and made with quality ingredients and the wine list robust and reasonable as well.

Appetizers include many of the Italian specialties you would expect, including calamari, fried mozzarella, mussels, bruschetta (pronounced bru-ske-ta, not bru-she-ta as many Americans mistakenly do), and assorted meats, cheeses, and marinated vegetables among others. I stopped ordering appetizers a long time ago because you can expect an abundance of food from ordering the main course including pasta (full meals or as sides), meats (veal, chicken and steak prepared in an abundance of sauces), salad (served family style – Ceasar is $2 extra per person) and fresh baked bread (keep bringing it!).


Pastas include many regulars including spaghetti and meatballs (a dish you will never see in Italy), manicotti, lasagna, ravioli, rigatoni, and gnocchi (small potato dumplings) in portions even the biggest eaters will not be disappointed by, but the meat dishes are not to be missed!

The veal dishes are the best value on the menu, just a buck or two more than the pastas and chicken dishes, served in a variety of sauces second to none. My favorites, not on the menu but available nonetheless, are the Veal (vitello in Italian) Saltimbocca (veal scallopini – medallions – covered with prosciutto and mozzarella, then baked and served in a lemon butter and sage sauce over angelhair pasta) and the Veal Capricosa (veal medallions covered with mozzarella then baked and served with sauteed prosciutto, mushrooms, and onion over angelhair). Other favorites are the Veal Toscano (veal scaloppini sautéed with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts, finished in a roasted garlic cream sauce), Veal Porcini (sautéed veal scaloppini in a porcini mushroom brandy cream sauce), and for those who enjoy hot and spicy, the Veal Giuseppe (veal scaloppini sautéed with spicy Italian sausage, onions, hot and sweet peppers, capers, olive, garlic & olive oil). All veal dishes are between $16.95 and $18.95 and served with salad, fresh, hot bread, and pasta, very reasonable for the quality of the milk-fed veal and portion sizes.  


The wine selection is moderate and varied, with glasses or bottles available at a fair price. A full bar is available for those who wish to partake.

Desserts, which I have been able to order only on a few occasions because of the robustness of the meals, are excellent and include classic tiramisu and delicious cannoli (tubular stuffed with a sweet ricotta cream), a specialty of the island of Sicily, my wife’s original home.

Paravicini’s, a name that is actually a bit redundant due to the fact that words ending in “i” are always plural in the Italian language, is a Colorado Springs treasure. Located in historic Old Colorado City, offers a wonderful American-style (Italians would never think of eating meat and pasta together) Italian meal with the opportunity to stroll through the historic district after dinner to digest before going on your way…buon appetite!
Paravicini's Italian Bistro on Urbanspoon






CombatCritic gives Paravicini’s a Whopping 9 out of 10 Bombs for quality, value, and consistency … BOMBS ARE GREAT!











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